How retail tech can improve business during the holiday season

Knott’s has been spreading the Christmas cheer since November, but the holiday lights have only just started going up around us. It’s the time of year when Costa Mesa really shines: the seasonal Newport Beach boat parade, the Ventura Parade of Lights, and the retailers getting ready for the busiest and most lucrative time of the year.

It might look a little different from the rest of the country, but Christmas in the OC works the same – especially if you’re currently trying to gather the last of your Christmas presents.

As a shopper, there’s nothing more irritating than heading into a store with a full list of things to buy, only to realize they’ve sold out in the time it took you to get there. Every year, stores face pretty much the same problem: not enough stock, not enough time, not enough staff.

There’s a better way of getting through the holiday season that isn’t just hiring temporary workers and hoping for the best. Technology can do a lot of amazing things, and while it can’t man a till or wrap presents, introducing some technology into retail can take the pressure off of a business to meet and exceed the limitations they can face.

Here are a couple of ways it works.

Shop and drop

Most big-box retailers have already discovered the benefits of having a shop-and-drop set up ready for consumers to benefit from. The thing is, people love shopping and people love buying things, but heading into the store itself is always an issue. Finding the item they’re looking for is always an issue. Making sure to then get that item home is always an issue.

Integrating your online and in-store shopping experiences through an app takes care of all those problems. You can have your consumers fill in a little profile about themselves, and use the data you’ll get through the app to deliver personalized recommendations that they might not have been looking for, giving them incentive to buy. Best of all, if you offer ways for them to get their products without necessarily having to go down to the store – either through delivery or a courier service – then the barrier of purchasing has already gone way down, and you’ll find a lot more people are inclined to shop at your store if it’s that convenient.

Putting your shopping experience on an app also allows for a customer experience that’s entirely customizable, from shopping online and getting your goods delivered within a set of days, or shopping online to secure your products and then picking them up on your way home from work.

Recommend replacements for out of stock products

No matter how much you anticipate and order, you’re bound to run out of something in particular. Fortunately, unless your clients are looking for a really specific item made by a really specific brand, you can recommend the next best thing. Maybe it’s not the same, but it can take away the frustration of a shopper trying to get a product that’s been out of stock for months, and providing an immediate, actionable solution to something that can’t be easily fixed is bound to generate some goodwill. Having a ready-made replacement takes the stress out of shopping, which can encourage consumers to spend their money a little more liberally than if they were frustrated and just trying to get through their list as quickly as possible.

If you stock something that’s impossible to find a substitute for, what you can do is connect your app to your inventory tracking system, and give yourself an early warning for when your stock is running low. This means you’ll know ahead of time that you need to restock, and you can plan ahead – and keep an eye on what’s selling out for next year.

Updated offers in real time

It’s the time of the year where money worries escalate significantly, and consumers are more likely to pay attention to what they’re spending – unless they feel like they’re getting a bargain. Retailers can manage a lot of this by bringing in a range of products at a range of price points, but if you want to really boost your selling potential, an updated listing of everything on offer, and the latest price, can help ease concerns and give consumers that little extra nudge to buy. These can live in a dedicated section on your website or through your app, and you can have them updated through smart sensors in the store.

Integrating your online and offline segments is a great idea for a lot of reasons, but it’s especially valuable during times when you’re anticipating a rush on stock. Tech can help take the heavy burden of meeting and exceeding consumer expectations off you, leaving you a little freer to focus just on bringing in the right products and meeting those consumer demands.